How exercise can help melt away stress

You wake up from a miserable night of sleep and start drinking coffee to wake up and get going. You’re running late to the office or dropping your kids off at school, followed by sitting in traffic (or, depending on where you live, waiting for a delayed ferry!). You’re overwhelmed by emails, managing and meeting deadlines, sitting in client meetings, and returning phone calls that won’t stop. You’re overstimulated by social media and the need to check-in, see what’s going on, and create your post so that you can fit into the expectations of strangers. On top of that, you have relationship issues, family challenges, and financial pressures.

If that’s not enough, happy moments like marriage, the birth of a child, graduation, a job promotion, are all perceived as stress on your body.

A day in the life of stress, like the scenario above, can build up quickly.

Even if it’s considered ‘good’ stress, it’s still stress. Unfortunately, your body doesn’t know the difference.

Stress can’t be avoided, everyone has stress, and that’s normal. It’s how you can manage your stress that matters.

 

Possible health risks of stress

 

Stress can have a significant impact on your body. If you don’t start to manage your stress today, it could lead to:

 

Irritability

Anxiety

Depression

Headaches

Challenges with memory, focus, and concentration

Digestive issues

Heart disease

Compromises in your immune system

Problems sleeping

Weight gain or weight loss

Diabetes

Anorexia

Sexual dysfunction

 

These are just a few examples; it could show up differently in your body. If you slow down enough to listen to the subtle voice of your body before it gets too loud, it will let you know what it needs. If you manage your stress today, you’ll be able to avoid the health risks listed above.

 

Let’s take a look at a few stress-busting effects of exercise.

 

  • Exercise is medicine for the body, mind, and soul, and best of all, it’s a medicine you can take daily. Exercise improves your overall health and your sense of wellbeing, leading to a considerable reduction in stress.
  • A dose of fresh air is a great way to get an instant attitude adjustment. Get out for a quick walk, hike, or bike ride.
  • A change of scenery does wonders for the mind. Head to the club for a quick, kick-ass strength training workout. Heavy lifting is a great way to get you out of your head and focused on your body and breath.
  • Have you tried a dose of mindful exercise? Mindful exercise can help you slow down, breathe deeper, and relax. Activities like yoga, tai chi, Qigong, and walking by yourself in nature are all great choices.
  • Exercise releases endorphins, the runner’s high, your body’s feel-good drug. This drug is safe and effective and can be taken daily.
  • Exercise brings blood and oxygen to the brain, bringing feelings of wellness, self-confidence, and mental clarity.
  • Exercise improves your mood; it can reduce depression and anxiety, which will help reduce the feelings of stress.

The best part about exercise is that you change your mindset by shifting your focus from the stress builders to your body movements.

When you exercise, you slowly start to forget the stressors and begin to focus your attention on your activity. Think of your activity as meditation in motion. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing a high-intensity or low-intensity activity, you will reap the benefits of exercise and focused movement.

When you finish your exercise, hold on to this feeling of calmness throughout your day.

 

The bonus tip:

exercise will improve your sleep, which is essential for the health of your body and mind. A good night of sleep (at least 7-9 hours) will allow you to get the rest you need to maintain your health.

 

How to add exercise to your weekly routine

 

Start with an activity you enjoy, if you enjoy it, you’ll stick with it.

If you get into a rut by repeating the same exercise or activity each week, don’t give up, it’s time to mix it up. Find a new activity (go swimming instead of taking a walk) or change the way you do your current activity.

If walking is your favorite exercise, but you find you’re in a rut, here’s a fun strategy to help you change it up.

The next time you go out for a walk, warm-up at a moderate pace for 8 minutes. Then walk as fast as you can to the second mailbox, elevating your heart rate to the point of being uncomfortable. Slow down a bit as you walk to the next mailbox, catch your breath. Continue to repeat this pattern for 20 minutes.

If you walk with a friend, you can shake it up by taking turns on who chooses the next marker. It can be near or far, long or short distance, it doesn’t matter, mix it up. Your goal is to have fun and get out of your rut.

As you start to add exercise to your weekly routine, start slowly and work up to 150 minutes a week and, most importantly, be consistent, make time to get it in each week.

Examples of how to fit 150 minutes of exercise into your week:

  • The easiest and most consistent way is to exercise five days a week, 30 min each
  • If you’re short on time, exercise five days a week, two sessions a day, 15 min each (try a morning and evening session)
  • If you have the time and enjoy going longer, exercise three days a week, 50 min each

Please choose an option that works best in your schedule; it doesn’t have to be an option listed above. And yes, you can change it up each week, depending on your schedule. The priority is to
get 150 minutes of exercise into your weekly routine.

If exercise is new to you and you’re starting to build the habit, grab your calendar right now. Look at your week and PEN in your exercise days and times.

Make these exercise days and times a priority, treat them like any other meeting you have on your calendar during the week.

And, because you wrote these exercise days and times in ink, this meeting can not be skipped, rescheduled, or canceled.

 

Here’s to melting away your stress!

 

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with a friend. Who knows, exercise might be the medicine they need.

If you are interested in getting on a weekly exercise program but don’t know where to start, please reach out. I would love to help, support, and motivate you on this new adventure.

In health,

Renae 

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